There are currently numerous workout and nutrition programs with advertisements across all forms of media. Social media is overly saturated with nutrition and exercise programs promoting various approaches as well as magical pills or products to get outrageous results in record time whether they are attainable, practical, or healthy. The purpose of this document is to discuss the good, bad, and ugly claims and aspects of some of the fitness industry. A goal is to distinguish fact from fiction and healthy from unhealthy. The goal here is not to attack any program or product, but instead to demonstrate that healthy, tailored, and targeted routines are far more beneficial for a large variety of reasons. Blatant misinformation to promote programs, products, or services is often propagated in the fitness industry of today. The goal should always be to provide healthy and effective programs targeted to the very specific goals and needs of the individual

The first step toward this end is to conduct a brief medical history examining medical conditions, current medications, injuries, and specific exercise or body composition goals for the patient or client. Certainly, all clients or patients do not have the exact same conditions, training goals, strengths, or weaknesses. Therefore, no one can be trained exactly like someone else and makes body sculpting an art and challenge. Many group fitness classes, home exercise productions, online exercise, nutrition, and meal systems are not tailored to individual needs which many times makes them unhealthy or possibly dangerous. One nutrition system has meals for men and women. Not all men or women have the same body types, musculature, or metabolism. So, to provide them with the same calorie count and meals is unhealthy and deeply troubling. Females receive 1,000 calories per day and males get 1,500 calories per day. This calorie count will support approximately ninety pounds of lean body mass for a female. This calorie count will support approximately one hundred twenty-five pounds of lean body mass for a male. This is not good and borders on very bad to the downright ugly category. Healthy, well-designed nutrition and meal plans must incorporate different daily caloric intakes, percentages of macronutrients, and food choices for specific, individual needs or goals. Resistance training regimens should have variation of exercises, number of repetitions, and rest intervals. After viewing thousands of resistance training ideas in fitness facilities, on social media, or other advertisement performed by clients or trainers; the need is to respectfully state that proper form as well as the fields of exercise physiology and biomechanics are taking a significant beating in many cases. A well designed and targeted program for body sculpting consists of stretching, resistance training, cardiovascular conditioning, and proper nutrition plan with daily caloric intake, macronutrient ratios, and healthy food choices.

Stretching is a very important aspect of fitness. It has a positive effect on muscles and range of motion for joints. It is my belief that stretching is covered reasonably well in many programs with backgrounds in yoga or Tai chi. The focus of this article will primarily be on the other aspects mentioned because this is where my knowledge and decades of experience provide the greatest benefit. A brief cardiovascular exercise bout lasting several minutes should be accomplished to literally warm the muscle before stretching. Each stretch should be held for twenty to thirty seconds with bouncing being avoided. The stretches may be conducted several times until the individual feels comfortable and prepared to engage in other forms of exercise.

Resistance training is a part of tailored body sculpting. Resistance can take the form of machines of various types, cable systems, free weights including barbells, dumbbells, curling bars, Trapezius bars, kettlebells, bands, bodyweight, or other weighted objects. Tailored resistance training must consider specific individual goals. The person may be interested in strength or power generation, muscle gain, bodybuilding or figure competition, toning, weight loss, cardiac or other rehabilitation. Resistance training is very important to maintain muscle mass and bone mineral density that diminishes as part of the aging process. Individual goals determine exercises chosen, number of sets, repetitions, and rest intervals between sets, and following exercise completion. It is very important to realize that adaptations to exercise occur at rest. Therefore, it is very important to not overtrain and to get adequate sleep for adaptation, recovery and proper hormonal response. On a personal note, I will admit to failing in these two areas often.

Many group fitness classes, home exercise productions, and high intensity interval training (HIIT) which is another name for circuit training mixed with cardiovascular periods that have been done for decades are not tailored to specific needs or fitness levels of an individual. This was very apparent one morning with an inexperienced personal trainer who was trying a HIIT workout using cardiovascular bouts mixed with a circuit of resistance training exercises. I saw his client pushing himself hard on the cardiovascular session and took notice to his heart rate. Knowing the man’s age, I calculated his age predicted maximum heart rate and this man’s heart rate was one hundred and two percent of his age predicted maximum. I never saw the trainer check or even consider the client’s heart rate. For circuit or HIIT training. It is negligent not to consider heart rate and could be detrimental, dangerous, or even deadly. Many HIIT workouts claim to burn a certain number of calories or body fat. Some claim to burn five hundred calories in half an hour. The number of calories burned is based on oxygen consumption. Metabolic cart analysis and oxygen consumption has not been conducted or collected on anaerobic exercises. For this reason, it is impossible to determine oxygen consumption and caloric expenditure, making these claims at the very best a guess. Resistance training, short cardiovascular bouts lasting two minutes or less, and sprints are examples of anaerobic exercise which does not burn fat directly, making this claim false. Circuit training may be the most beneficial to burn fat and consists of cardiovascular exercise at a proper target heart rate mixed with light, high repetition resistance training circuits to maintain the appropriate heart rate. It is impossible to make anaerobic exercise aerobic, but we can push the envelope so to speak that will benefit cardiac rehabilitation patients, weight loss clients, and endurance athletes by combatting muscle fatigue and promoting muscle oxygen extraction and utilization as well as promote some fat loss. In these cases, heart rate must be monitored which is often not done during many HIIT workouts and are not in a fat burning range when monitored.

Resistance training and anaerobic exercise does have a positive impact on skeletal muscle and hormone response by raising testosterone and growth hormone levels. Muscle is more metabolically active than other tissues of the body and possessing more lean body mass burns more calories throughout the day even at rest. Anaerobic exercise also creates an oxygen debt for a period following exercise completion that leads to caloric expenditure. Both phenomena help, but only amount to a few hundred calories per day and to burn one pound of fat requires a caloric expenditure of 3,500 calories. Resistance training is very beneficial because everyone naturally loses muscle and strength as we age. Although this is true, anaerobic exercise is not directly responsible for burning fat like aerobic exercise. Tailored resistance training consisting of appropriate mode, exercises, repetitions, and rest intervals is essential. Obviously, a bodybuilder preparing for a competition should not engage in a similar training regimen as an overweight cardiac rehabilitation patient. This may seem humorous to many, but I have been astonished by things I have seen and experienced in over thirty-five years of training.

So much of my career is filled with blessings and experiences that are extremely positive and gratifying. There are many stretching programs with a background in yoga and Tai chi have had a positive influence on many people with the stretches and meditation. Personally, I have been involved with a superior exercise testing and cardiovascular conditioning system and apparatus, writing cardiac rehabilitation resistance training policies and procedures manual as well as implementing the same. We have started a software package designing cardiovascular, resistance training, and nutrition plans for members after designing workout and nutrition programs for everyone from cardiac rehabilitation patients to elite bodybuilders. There is nothing more satisfying and brings greater joy than seeing a person reach a goal or win a title he or she worked so hard to accomplish. I have been blessed to work with some remarkable people. All of this has been very good. The bad includes the same calorie count for all males and females regardless of starting point, HIIT workouts without heart rate monitoring or being targeted to any specific goals, trainers taking clients to dangerous heart rates, and resistance training exercises, form, and repetitions that were detrimental or injured clients. The downright ugly come from a young gentleman who is promoting a testosterone boosting product. He seems to believe that testosterone burns fat and cardiovascular exercise does not. Both notions are false. This person is not overly muscular and is young. His testosterone level should not be an issue at his age. He claims that cortisol blocks testosterone and that testosterone is a premiere fat burning hormone. The one research study he cites was done by injecting cortisol into a subject before sleep. During deep REM sleep is when men release most testosterone and growth hormone. This research is flawed, highly suspect, and plays on the lack of familiarity of the physiology behind the research study design to promote a testosterone boosting supplement. This product may work to boost testosterone to some degree and I have not tried it, but this research was designed to get the result desired and promote the claim that cortisol blocks testosterone and testosterone burns fat at higher levels. Cortisol is a fight or flight hormone produced by the adrenal cortex and is not produced or released abundantly during sleep. When cortisol is administered before attempting to sleep, it most likely is not going to promote normal and restful slumber reducing testosterone and growth hormone production. Testosterone levels are also lowered because cortisol and testosterone compete for the same carrier molecule. The study design has these hormones battling for a carrier that will obviously lower free testosterone levels as a result. Very little cortisol is produced during normal sleeping conditions or situations and physiological conditions. In this case, the study design was structured to get the result desired, but I leave this to the reader’s discretion. The claims are made that state testosterone burns fat and that cardiovascular exercise does not. This is false on both counts. Epinephrine or adrenaline starts the process of burning fat and growth hormone continues it. Testosterone has many benefits, but burning fat is not a primary one. As mentioned previously, Testosterone will help promote and maintain lean body mass. A more muscular person will generally burn slightly more calories. Although this is true, testosterone does not burn fat directly or at all.

Aerobic exercise burns fat. Over fifty years of research and very much metabolic cart analysis proves that burning fat takes place by engaging in cardiovascular exercise at an appropriate target heart that may be established by age predicted maximum heart rate (APMHR) or exercise test. Cardiovascular sessions may last thirty to sixty minutes, one to two sessions per day, and accomplished three to five days per week. A cardiovascular exercise bout must last a minimum of sixteen minutes to get a training effect. A person may engage in cardiovascular exercise more than five days per week, but research supports that changes in VO2 are minimal and the risk of injury increases three hundred percent. Aerobic activities very often end in “Ing” and some include running, rowing, skipping, walking, jogging, dancing, cycling, swimming, and skiing.

One word that ends in “Ing” that is not aerobic is weightlifting Resistance training is anaerobic exercise. Resistance training can be performed with anything that can supply resistance. Resistance can take the form of cans, household furniture or accessories, resistance bands, kettlebells, dumbbells, barbells, cable systems, Smythe machines, plate loaded or weight stack machines. Anaerobic exercise cannot be made aerobic, but the envelope may be pushed dramatically. In this scenario aerobic exercise is mixed with light circuit training and can reach and maintain a desired heart rate range to burn fat. Many of the HIIT workouts that I witnessed often did not take a heart rate which again could possibly be ineffective or dangerous.

Resistance training should be targeted for cardiac or other rehabilitation, muscle gain, bodybuilding and figure contest preparation, weight loss, or sports performance. The choice of exercises, repetitions base, and rest intervals will vary dramatically based on individual goals and needs. Exercises chosen are dependent on body types, body composition, strengths, weaknesses, and changes desired in body composition or sports performance goals. Repetitions are higher for endurance, a little lower for muscle gain, and lowest for strength and power training. Endurance athletes can use twenty-five or greater repetitions with little or no rest between sets and accomplished in a circuit fashion moving from one exercise directly into the next. Weight loss and toning goals are accomplished at a repetition range of twenty or greater for lower body movements and fifteen or greater for upper body movements. Muscle gain is most effective at a repetition base between eight and twelve. Repetitions of six or less is used for strength and power. It is very often beneficial to incorporate a variation of several different repetition schemes. These repetition variations are specific to individual goals. Endurance athletes take very little or no rest between sets while performing intermittent cardiovascular bouts. Weight loss and toning clients will often use zero to thirty seconds of rest. Bodybuilders that wish to add or maintain muscle mass will generally use thirty seconds to a minute rest but will also use descending and supersets. These techniques are considered somewhat advanced and is often used during contest preparation. Power athletes will often take up to two minutes or more of rest between sets. The number of repetitions and rest intervals may vary during a training session for a wide variety of goals and reasons specific to the patient, client, or athlete. Proper exercise form is so very important and is usually taught well by learning the muscle being trained and contracting the muscle slowly and deliberately to feel both phases of movement thoroughly through a full range of motion. When engaging in resistance training, it is necessary to execute proper breathing. The participant should never hold his or her breath. The subject should inhale on the negative being when the weight or weight stack is going down. The negative should be approximately four seconds in duration. Exhaling is done during the positive phase of the movement, being when the weight or weight stack is going up and should be two to three seconds in duration. This is so important, let me say it another way. Inhale when the resistance is going with gravity and exhale when the resistance is going against gravity. It seems so simple, but people still hold their breath very often. Please be sure to breathe properly during resistance training.

Nutrition breakdown and meal plans should also be tailored to individual goals and specific needs. All men or women should not use the same calorie count, macronutrients and meal plans. Healthy and effective nutrition programs must be designed and consist of these three specific components. Appropriate daily caloric intake, percentages of macronutrients, and food choices are critical aspects of a tailored and well-designed nutrition program. A body fat measurement or desired bodyweight is used to establish an appropriate daily caloric intake. A current and desired body fat is the most accurate, healthy, and safe approach to establish a daily caloric intake. The daily caloric intake will eventually determine what an individual will weigh. The percentages of macronutrients consumed sculpt the body accordingly. The percentages are structured to the goals of the overall program. The meals should contain an adequate protein to fat ratio, glycemic load as well as energy substrates, healthy fats, high fiber, moderate sodium, and low simple sugars. These meal plans and foods chosen can be used for a wide variety of goals, but also as a part of treatment for many conditions such as the following: heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, headaches, inflammation, and many others.

Tailored programs to reach specific goals regarding body composition, health, and performance must include all aspects of overall fitness. There are certainly also mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects to health and well-being not addressed in the scope of this article. All the aspects of fitness covered should to tailored and targeted to specific desires for best results and outcomes. Certainly, not all clients can benefit from the same diet, resistance training, and cardiovascular programs. What might be good for one person may be detrimental or even deadly for another. A well balanced, safe, and effective fitness regimen should encompass stretching, resistance training, cardiovascular conditioning, and proper nutrition. Per ACSM, losing more than two and half pounds per week means muscle loss. So, speed and health do not always walk together. Severe diet programs promising extreme results may damage resting metabolic rate permanently, so please choose wisely. TPN recommends a well-balanced and tailored program that provides safe, healthy and effective results. For more articles and information on diet and exercise, please visit